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Opposition Withholds Cooperation with Unrest Probe


Armenia -- Arman Musinian, spokesman of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, undated

Armenia -- Arman Musinian, spokesman of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, undated

Armenia’s main opposition group has refused to cooperate with the parliament’s ad hoc commission conducting a probe into last year’s post-election unrest on its allegations that ‘illegal armed groups’ were used in the suppression of the March 1-2, 2008 street demonstrations in Yerevan.

The Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Monday repeated its position that from the very outset it has not recognized the parliamentary commission as a ‘competent and legitimate’ body to conduct the probe.

Last Friday, the commission urged the HAK to provide evidence to its claim about an unauthorized issue of military uniforms from government stocks to several senior officials on the day of the clashes in which ten people were killed and many more were injured.

Two opposition members of a disbanded alternative inquiry into Armenia’s worst street violence incorporated that claim in their latest report submitted to the parliamentary commission last week. The HAK insisted that it had received the information from a reliable source, but stopped short of disclosing that source, citing security reasons.

HAK spokesman Arman Musinian confirmed to RFE/RL that the opposition alliance had received a letter from the commission’s chairman Samvel Nikoyan in which the latter asked it to appoint a representative who would participate in related discussions.

Musinian said that the HAK “considers any participation in the commission’s work unnecessary.”

He added that the HAK had already provided all information it possessed to the Fact-Finding Group and called on the parliament’s commission “to do its job” checking the veracity of this information.

The HAK claims that nine senior state officials, including four members of parliament, received a total of 950 sets of military outfit from the Ministry of Defense on March 1, 2008, implying that it might have been worn by their bodyguards and other security personnel allegedly involved in action against civilians. Only senior pro-government MP Gagik Tsarukian has so far denied this accusation.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary commission’s chairman Samvel Nikoyan responded to the HAK statement by “thanking” it for reminding the commission of its duties.

“And what are your duties?” he commented to RFE/RL addressing his words to the HAK. “Is it disseminating some misinformation and then refraining from further activities?”

Artsvik Minasian, a commission member from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said he hoped law-enforcement bodies would take action in connection with the report.

“I hope that the prosecutors and the Special Investigation Service will provide a concrete answer on this account. The leadership of the Republic of Armenia is being accused of setting up illegal armed groups. This means that prosecutors must investigate the claim and if they find sufficient grounds, they must launch criminal proceedings. Otherwise, they must disprove it,” said Minasian.
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